A judge has ruled that the citizen group Save the Dinky and several Princeton residents have standing in a lawsuit challenging Princeton University’s contract with NJ Transit to relocate the Dinky station.
Mercer County Superior Court Judge Paul Innes this afternoon rejected Princeton University’s request for summary judgment in a lawsuit that challenges the 1984 contract between the university and NJ Transit regarding the Dinky station move.
Lawyers for Princeton University argued that the residents and citizen group have have no legal standing in the case and no right to control the location of rail service provided by NJ Transit.
“Plaintiffs, who are objectors to the University’s project and who are attempting to thwart the development on multiple fronts, claim they have the right to disagree with the two parties to the agreement, the University and NJ Transit, and have this court impose plaintiffs’ reading of the contract on those parties,” reads the legal brief filed by lawyers representing the university. “The plaintiffs, however, were neither parties to the agreement, nor are they third party beneficiaries and therefore have no right or standing to challenge the intent of the parties to the contract, to enforce the contract, or to have this Court impose their interpretation of the contract on the parties to the Agreement. The law is settled and clear. One who is not a party to a contract but merely benefits from it (as the plaintiffs contend they do in this case) does not have standing to sue to enforce the contract.”
Princeton lawyer Bruce Afran, who represents Save the Dinky, argued that lawyers for the university are misreading the law and that the 1984 agreement was created for the purpose of benefiting rail users who use the Dinky line. “NJ Transit is a public corporation whose sole authorized purpose is to provide a direct benefit to commuters who use mass transit,” reads Afran’s brief in opposition to the request for summary judgment.
Innes held that Princeton train commuters have standing to challenge the University’s attempt to move the 150 year old train service and that there are factual issues as to whether or not the Dinky can be legally moved under the university’s 1984 contract with the State. The Court dismissed a claim concerning whether the easement in the University’s deed could be enforced by members of the public.
A hearing is scheduled for July 22 to set a trial date for the lawsuit.
The lawsuit filed by Save the Dinky and several residents is one of a a handful lawsuits filed by residents opposing the station move that is part of the university’s $300 million arts an transit project.